Wither Weiner: Does The N.Y. Congressman Have The Survival Skills To Ride This Out? (The Note)

Jun 8, 2011 8:46am

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone) and AMY WALTER (@amyewalter)

Looking back, was this the beginning of the end for Anthony Weiner?

“With absolutely metaphysical certitude,” he said in an interview with The New York Times nearly three weeks before the sexting scandal broke, “I will say that I will offend somebody or make a mistake once in a while. I won’t always be politically correct, and I’m sorry in advance.” http://nyti.ms/mMoNvb

After Weiner’s emotional admission on Monday that he had engaged in online flirtations with at least six women over the years, it seems that “sorry” isn’t good enough — not for many of his erstwhile allies and certainly not for his critics.

“Lying is unforgivable,” former Democratic National Committee Chairman and current Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine told a local CBS television station yesterday. “Lying publicly about something like this is unforgivable and he should resign.” http://politi.co/kYUivN

Even his fellow New York lawmakers are turning on him. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-NY, who represents a nearby Congressional district, told The Times that during a recent phone call with Weiner, she asked him, “How can you explain that somebody can be so smart but so stupid?” Should he step down? “The most important thing in this business is credibility,” Velázquez told The Times. http://nyti.ms/m2m3HD

“I am not resigning,” Weiner said to reporters Tuesday evening, sticking to the position he staked out at his tearful press conference earlier this week. http://abcn.ws/jRpzmr

So, does Weiner hold on?

A primary challenge is possible, but that's over a year from now (New York has September primary). It appears that Rep. Joe Crowley, D-NY, the Queens Democratic Party boss is the real power broker here. He can encourage (or discourage) challenges in primary.

It’s much the same with redistricting. We won't know what the lines will look like until next year though there's some talk that Weiner could get drawn in with Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-NY, who now represents the sixth Congressional district.

And, an ethics investigation isn't a speedy thing either. Though the wheels of that process are beginning to turn after Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Weiner’s conduct, according to The Hill newspaper, the inquiry into whether he “violated House rules would likely drag out until 2012.” It could get messy and embarrassing. http://bit.ly/lcGIdB

More on the ethics investigation from ABC’s Dan Abrams: http://abcn.ws/iOqnfU

The question now is whether he'll be able to hunker down and ride out this storm until next year. That's going to depend on just how many other shoes drop between now and then. As one smart Democratic House insider told us: “If it is discovered he used government resources or something else that is either illegal or unethical, the pressure for him to step down will be too great. He doesn’t have a lot of friends in Congress, which doesn’t help either.”

NOTABLE: MAJORITY OF NEW YORK VOTERS WANT WEINER TO STAY. “According to a survey of 500 New York City registered voters conducted by New York 1 and Marist College, only 30 percent say Weiner should resign. 51 percent of respondents said he should stay in his position and 18 percent said they were not sure,” ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf reports. ‘It’s worth keeping in mind that New York is overwhelmingly Democratic. Partisanship can run high in this town. Moral outrage, maybe less so’ said ABC News pollster Gary Langer of Langer Research Associates. … Weiner has been a rising star among Democrats and until the sexting imbroglio was considered a viable candidate for mayor. While a bare majority of the New York City voters in the NY1/Marist poll said he shouldn’t resign from Congress, fewer supported a potential Weiner mayoral run. Twenty-five percent said she should run for mayor in the 2013 election, while 56 percent said he should not and 19 percent were unsure. Trust of Weiner is not high; 64 percent of respondents thought he ‘only said he was sorry because he got caught.’” http://abcn.ws/mu4c91

AND WHAT ABOUT HIS CONSTITUENTS? “On Tuesday, some in the district said they could forgive him for the pictures he sent to women electronically,” writes The Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold. “‘He’s got a — waddayacallit? He’s got a flaw,’ said Joseph Clark, 66, a transplanted Texan who has lived in Forest Hills for 13 years and was spending his noontime at the Tap House bar. Clark said he was reserving judgment about whether Weiner is finished as a politician. ‘I think the real indicator is what his wife does,’ Clark said … ‘If she stands with him, I think that has merit.’ Over at the Austin Fancy Cut on 71st Road, Selma Haar, 73, still couldn’t believe the news. Weiner ‘should be ashamed. He’s only married — it’s going to be a year next month — and he puts on a different face,’ said Haar, who was waiting for a blow-dry at the salon. … Behind the counter at the Pasticceria Amore in Queens, Scarlett Palacio, 23, said that Weiner had not followed a clear rule. Everybody messes up, she said. But the decent thing to do is tell the truth about it. … ‘If you screw up, you gotta man up for it,’ Palacio said.” http://wapo.st/mDnD58

AND HIS MOST IMPORTANT CONSTITUENT: HUMA. Weiner's Wife, Huma Abedin, is on an overseas trip with her boss and long-time confidante, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. ABC’s Claire Shipman reports that according to sources close to Abedin, although she knew about Weiner’s indiscretions before they were married, she genuinely believed they had stopped. Abedin was very shocked on his behalf for days — that somebody would hack into his Twitter account, which is the story her husband fed to the public before admitting he lied. She found out that this was not a hoax last weekend. Friends say she adores him – “he makes her laugh” and draws her out. And he “worships” her. She still may not understand full implications of damage he's done to career and marriage, sources say. And she still believes he can save his political career, and wants to help him do that.

Will she stay or will she go? More from Shipman’s “Good Morning America” report: http://abcn.ws/j6KXmP


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: BILL BURTON AND ACTOR JEFF BRIDGES. ABC’s Amy Walter and Rick Klein sit down with former White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton, who is heading up the new Democratic fundraising group, Priorities USA. Also on the program, a conversation with Jeff Bridges, actor and activist for the Virginia No Kid Hungry Campaign. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine



GRADING TIM PAWLENTY.GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty yesterday brought his ‘hard truths’ tour to President Obama's old stomping grounds of the University of Chicago to unveil his proposal to jumpstart the economy,” ABC’s Matthew Jaffe reports. ‘It's going to be the Jack Nicholson election,’ Pawlenty told the crowd here, full of college students. "Some of you are probably too young to remember the movie 'A Few Good Men,' but there's that famous line when he's on the witness stand and says, 'You can't handle the truth.' The American people, I think, can handle the truth.’ Yesterday’s ‘hard truth’? According to Pawlenty, that Obama is ‘a champion practictioner of class warfare’ whose policies have left the economy in worse shape than it was in three years ago. ‘We've tried President Obama's way and it has only made the economy worse,’ Pawlenty said. ‘The truth is markets work and Barack Obama's central planning doesn't,’ he said.http://abcn.ws/k0ZO6D

The reaction to Pawlenty’s economic speech varied widely. The WSJ editorial page liked it: “Mr. Pawlenty would extricate the economy from this government cul de sac by enhancing the incentives to work, invest and create jobs. He sketched out yesterday a Reagan-like tax reform of lower rates for individuals and businesses.” http://on.wsj.com/k89wto

The Washington Post’s economic blogger Ezra Klein, hated it: “[The] message in his big economic speech yesterday went down pretty easy, at least for the Republican faithful. Pawlenty promised that substantially cutting taxes would increase economic growth by 150 percent and reduce the deficit by 40 percent. Some hard truth. Next you'll deliver the bad news that if I stop paying my mortgage, my income will grow twice as fast, the bank will pay off half my loan and I'll be able to use the savings to redo my kitchen.” http://wapo.st/kk4Qji

The question for Pawlenty is whether his plan puts enough red meat on the table for Republicans while shielding him from charges of “extremism" in a general election. But by talking taxes instead of Medicare he avoids the kind of hot button issue that's easy to put into a 30-second ad. His approach is more Bush-like than Tea Party-like — cutting tax rates without regard for deficits.

BOTTOM LINE: As an unknown and untested figure, Pawlenty needs to be more aggressive than rival Mitt Romney in putting out policy positions (ending ethanol subsidies, signing the Paul Ryan budget). Yet it's a double-edged sword. It gives his opponents in primary and general election some meaty targets.

BACHMANN VS. PALIN DRAMA HEATS UP.Rep. Michele Bachmann’s prospective 2012 campaign appears increasingly set on a collision course with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin,” Politico’s Ben Smith and Maggie Haberman write. “The coming confrontation is being driven by a belief in Bachmann’s camp that the same grassroots, conservative primary voters and caucus-goers may have to choose between the two women — and that they will choose Bachmann if she presents herself as a more seasoned, reliable, and serious conservative than her high-profile rival. The apparent effort to draw distinctions broke into the open Tuesday when her new top strategist, Ed Rollins, dismissed Palin as ‘not serious’ in a radio interview. He suggested in an interview with POLITICO that Bachmann would profit from the contrast. Bachmann will ‘be so much more substantive,’ Rollins said. ‘People are going to say, ‘I gotta make a choice and go with the intelligent woman who’s every bit as attractive.’ ‘I’m not afraid of Palin,’ he said, adding the strategy would have been the same for Mike Huckabee. … Aides to Palin didn’t respond to inquiries about Rollins’ comments, but a writer on the blog that serves as her supporters’ main voice, Conservatives4Palin, demanded that the Minnesota congresswoman ‘either affirm her support for the long-time beltway fossil’s idiotic comments…or refudiate them.’” http://politi.co/ix474I

NOTED: Here's the reason why it's dangerous to have TV commentator as campaign manager. What Ed Rollins said about Palin was totally acceptable for a pundit– not so much for campaign strategist.

HUNTSMAN ON 2012: NOT ‘IF’ BUT ‘WHEN.’  From ABC’s Sarah Kunin: Former Ambassador Jon Huntsman confirmed that he will deliver “a formal announcement” on his decision to run for president at the end of the month, according to National Review reporter Ramesh Ponnuru. “We have basically decided as a family that we are very comfortable moving forward,” he told Ponnuru. When Ponnuru responded that his remarks sounded like a “when,” not an “if”, Huntsman replied “when.” Ponnuru notes that after his conversation with Huntsman, a spokesman called “to clarify that while all signs point to a run, no final decision has been made.” While Huntsman still hasn’t declared his presidential candidacy, it isn’t stopping his political action committee, H PAC, from gearing up for a potential run. http://abcn.ws/k772WH

ROMNEY: ‘TALK TO MY CHURCH.’ “In an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, the second part of which aired tonight on the network, presidential candidate Mitt Romney pushed back against the host's questions about how his Mormon faith might influence his policy should he win the White House in 2012,” ABC’s Emily Friedman reports. “Asked whether it's actually possible to separate his faith from his job as president should he be elected, Romney responded, ‘Absolutely. You don't begin to apply doctrines of a religion to responsible of guiding a nation or guiding a state.’ Romney explained that he is pro-life and that he is in favor of gay rights but believes that marriage should be a union between a man and a woman. Morgan pressed him on what the Mormon church says about gay rights, asking, "What is the Mormon position on homosexuality being a sin?’ 'I'm not a spokesman for my church,’ Romney responded. ‘But don't you know?’ Morgan interrupted. ‘I'm not a spokesman for my church. And one thing I'm not going to do in running for president is become a spokesman for my church or apply a religious test that is simply forbidden by the constitution, I'm not going there,’ Romney said. ‘If you want to learn about my church, talk to my church.’” http://abcn.ws/kf7Ld1

JIM DEMINT TAKES A ‘WAIT AND SEE’ APPROACH TO PRESIDENTIAL RACE. “Last week, rumors swirled that Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina could be a potential presidential candidate, and while that may no longer be the case, the conservative undoubtedly will play a leading role in the 2012 election cycle,” The Daily Caller’s Amanda Carey reports. “But ask the senator what his playbook will be for getting conservative Republicans elected, and his answer is: ‘I think it’s going to take some time to see which candidate is really willing to do the things necessary to stop us from running off a fiscal cliff, like demanding passage of a balanced budget amendment,’ DeMint told The Daily Caller. ‘I’m encouraging folks to wait and see who proves they deserve our support,’ he added. DeMint’s strategy consists of one goal that certainly won’t be easy to achieve: solidifying conservative grassroots support behind a single candidate. It’s hard because the field ranges from two distant ends of a Republican continuum that has grown in recent years making it increasingly likely that the conservative support could end up very splintered.” http://bit.ly/itkp8T

HOUSE EXIT SHAKES UP LOW-KEY RACE. “It was supposed to be another sleepy election cycle in the Sooner State, where Republicans just inked into law a relatively noncontroversial new Congressional map that made only minor changes to the current House districts. But Rep. Dan Boren’s (D) surprise retirement announcement Tuesday kicks off the first competitive race in Oklahoma in almost a decade,” Roll Call’s Shira Toeplitz notes. “Boren’s seat is a great pickup opportunity for Republicans, and if the GOP can pick up this seat, they will control the entire seven-member Congressional delegation. The new Congressional map mostly shifted around parts of counties in some of the state’s rural districts and suburban areas. Every House Member in the delegation — the four Republicans and Boren — signed off on the changes to their districts before the Legislature passed the map and Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed it into law May 10.” http://bit.ly/kneGgb



@GOP12: Quinnipiac: Romney 25% Palin 15% Paul and Gingrich 8% Bachmann 6% Pawlenty 5% http://bit.ly/irnq98

@MPOTheHill: Hatch jabs Chaffetz: 'He could possibly be a halfway decent Congressman in the House if he would concentrate on it' http://bit.ly/jrj76b

@RealClearScott: Huntsman once had business reasons to oppose ethanol. Corporation produced rival gasoline additive: http://bit.ly/iLyAiQ

@romenesko: Jill Abramson: It may be weird that I haven't tweeted yet, but I haven't felt the need until now. http://journ.us/kr85le

@HuffingtonPost: 25 overlooked political books of 2011 http://huff.to/jzTvP0



* Newt Gingrich will sign the "Strong America Now" deficit reduction pledge, which vows to eliminate the deficit without adding new taxes, at C&M Machine Products Inc. in Hudson, NH. In the evening Newt & Callista screen their documentary, Nine Days that Changed the World (about Pope John Paul II's pilgrimage to Poland in 1979), followed by a book and DVD signing in Plaistow, NH.

* Senator Rick Santorum will meet with voters at Joey's Diner in Amherst, N.H. at 12:30 p.m.


The Note Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV


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* For breaking political news and analysis check out The Note blog: http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/and ABCNews.com/Politics: http://abcnews.com/politics

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